Med Flory, 1926-2014

_MG_1959Med Flory Jazz Wave-L

Alto saxophonist Med Flory was best known to the general public as an actor, but jazz listeners are most likely to remember him as the co-founder and leader of Supersax. Flory died this week at the age of 87. He made hundreds of appearances in television shows and a few in motion pictures, usually as characters in westerns and action flicks. He’s the big man in the foreground in a scene from the 1966 film Night Of The Grizzly. He was a familiar presence in Mannix, Bonanza, Wagon Train, Magnum … [Read more...]

Iola Brubeck RIP

Iola, Dave, Duke

Iola Brubeck died today. She had been under treatment for cancer discovered several months ago during oral surgery. She was 90 years old. Her children made the announcement through the University of the Pacific, home of the Brubeck Institute. Mrs. Brubeck and her husband Dave were alumni of the university. They met there at a student dance in the early 1940s and decided that night they would marry, which they did a few months later. Mrs. Brubeck died peacefully at home in Wilton, Connecticut, … [Read more...]

Other Places: Cerra’s Bud Shank Seminar

Bud Shank

In his Jazz Profiles blog, Steve Cerra posts a piece about Bud Shank (1926-2009) that is packed with remembrances of the saxophonist and flutist, interviews, photographs and music clips that recall the career of an amazingly productive, versatile and expressive musician. Steve’s introduction summons his own youthful impression of Shank: To the older guys that I hung out with, Bud Shank was the epitome of West Coast “Cool.” He was a tall, broad shouldered, good looking guy with a brush … [Read more...]

A New Approach


It has been Rifftides practice to make Doug's Picks recommendations in batches, with long periods between. Beginning with the recommendation below, the picks are going to come singly and more often. As always, clicking on the title of the CD, DVD or book will take you to where it can be found. The current recommendations are in the right column under Doug’s Picks. If you click on “More Doug’s Picks” at the end of that section, you can read them clear back to 2006. That covers a lot of listening, … [Read more...]

CD Recommendation: Anton Schwartz

Schwartz Flash Mob

Anton Schwartz, Flash Mob (AntonJazz) The front-line blend of the leader’s tenor saxophone and Dominic Farinacci’s trumpet may recall Hank Mobley and Kenny Dorham, but if this is hard bop, its 21st century attitude is Schwartz’s own. His compositions have a distinctive quality that incorporates disparate harmonies and rhythms. “Pangur Ban” could be a down home Irish reel, if there is such a thing. “Swamp Thang” has overtones suggesting that the swamp in question is on Georgia or southern … [Read more...]

Weekend Extra: Poodie’s Town


Speaking of Poodie James (see the previous post), if you have read the novel you might like to see a bit of the town and valley that bear a not entirely coincidental resemblance to the book’s locale. I just watched a short promotional video made by Charley Voorhis and his colleagues at an outfit called Voortex Productions. I had never heard of Voortex until a friend sent me a link to this little film. I am impressed with the shooting, editing, post-production and story-telling skill that went … [Read more...]

Surviving In The Book Business: An Authors Fair


As the digital revolution makes inroads into traditional publishing based in paper, bookstores are not having a notably good century so far. Hardly a week goes by without news of a large or small bookstore, including those owned by chains, going out of business somewhere in the US. Yakima, Washington, the longest running of the Ramseys' many hometowns, has an independent bookstore that does well because this reading community supports it. That is in no small part because Inklings Bookshop … [Read more...]

The Bill Holman Film

Holman with Mic

The Bill Holman documentary that I helped with late last year is moving closer to reality. Its producer, Kathryn King, has launched a fund-raising drive to help her and her crew complete the film on schedule. That is how many projects are accomplished these days when they don’t have the backing of big Hollywood investors. Few of them have that kind of support, especially when the ventures have to do with the arts. In November, I spent a few days in Los Angeles interviewing Mr. Holman for the … [Read more...]

Just Because: Jan Allan


Jan Allan with the Visby Big Band, Berwaldhallen Stockholm, Sweden, 1985. Arranged, conducted and introduced by Rob McConnell. Later this month, Allan, now 79, will join pianist Jan Lundgren, bassist Georg Riedel, saxophonist-composer Erik Norström and the Bohuslän Big Band for an eight-city tour of Sweden in honor of the late pianist Bengt Hallberg. For a previous Rifftides post about Jan Allan, go here. … [Read more...]

Herbie Hancock At Harvard

Herbie Hancock smiling

The distinguished pianist, composer and leader is the 2014 occupant of the chair held by Bernstein, Cage, Eliot, Stravinsky and Gordimer, among others. For further details, including how to get a ticket for the remaining lectures in the series, go here. As for what qualifies Hancock for the honor, we have a demonstration of two attributes, his composing and his playing. The piece is “Chan’s Song.” His accompanists are bassist Christian McBride and drummer Karriem Riggins. … [Read more...]

Correspondence: More About Crocojazz

John Norris in Paris]

Rifftides reader Ted O’Reilly writes from Toronto: I wasn’t much inclined to shop much at Crocojazz personally – I’m not into vinyl as some are – but it was not as inviting as I’d hoped. Unorganized, dusty, boxes and crates on the floor...a treasure hunt, perhaps, but as I was without my spade, not much more than ‘a cultural’ experience. Here’s the late John Norris in a picture I took (it sez here) on May 28/08. Note that it was taken before we went in. He might not have been as … [Read more...]

Correspondence: Used Records In Paris

La Dame Blanche

Rifftides reader Greg Curtis is on a study sabbatical in Paris. Wishing to stimulate envy—and succeeding—he sent an illustrated message about two used record stores in the 5th arrondissement, near his apartment. One, La Dame Blanche, specializes in classical recordings. The name of the other, Crocojazz, is self-explanatory. They are across from one another on the rue de la Montagne-Ste-Geneviève.               Mr. Curtis writes about … [Read more...]

Grace Kelly At The Seasons

Grace Kelly Quartet, Seasons

From her opening blues, “Filosophical Flying Fish,” to the concluding “Summertime” done as a sort of neo-boogaloo, Grace Kelly’s Thursday concert at The Seasons in Yakima, Washington, left no doubt that she is in the top flight of today’s alto saxophonists. She has been there for some time. Here is what I wrote after I first heard her at a festival jam session in 2007 (pictured then, above). I know of no explanation other than genius for this slender fourteen-year-old girl’s attainment of … [Read more...]

The Spring Quartet In Portland

Spring Quartet, JB

Thara Memory wanted to make one thing perfectly clear. “This is new music,” the venerable trumpeter and educator told the Portland Jazz Festival audience. “New. N.E.W. Have you got that?” He said it was not going to be ninety minutes of “that free jazz,” but it would be adventurous. That was Dr. Memory’s emphatic way of introducing the Spring Quartet, an all-star band headed by veteran drummer Jack DeJohnette, whose track record encompasses Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Bill … [Read more...]

Akiyoshi-Tabackin, Frishberg-Dorough


Midway through Lew Tabackin’s tenor saxophone solo on “Long Yellow Road,” Toshiko Akiyoshi smiled at a particularly vigorous passage in his improvisation. The two have put a lot of miles on that Akiyoshi composition since it was the title tune of a classic 1975 album. It has worked for Akiyoshi as a big band vehicle and as a solo piano piece, and at the Portland Jazz Festival it worked for their quartet. Bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Mark Taylor joined Akiyoshi and Tabackin in a 90-minute … [Read more...]

Buster Williams, Cécile McLorin Salvant

Cecile McLorin Salvant

The Portland Jazz Festival booked Cécile McLorin Salvant to open for bassist Buster Williams’s “Something More” quintet, but she and her trio headed by pianist Aaron Diehl came close to stealing the show. The 24-year-old singer captivated an audience most of whose members were hearing her for the first time. As noted last summer in the Rifftides recommendation of her only album, she emerged, virtually unknown, as a fully developed artist. Salvant’s contralto, impeccably in tune from sub-basement … [Read more...]

Jack Berry RIP

Jack Berry

Today as the Portland Jazz Festival was at its midpoint came the call I’ve been dreading. Jack Berry is dead. Since we were in the early stages of our careers during my Portland years in the 1960s, Jack and I have been friends whose closeness was never affected by distance. As I batted around the country from news job to news job, our friendship was not allowed to dim. He was a perceptive writer on jazz and any other subject he chose to approach, and over the years he has been quoted many times … [Read more...]

Darrell Grant And The Territory

Grante, Locke

According to the Oregon Encyclopedia, Darrell Grant moved to the state in 1997, “in search of a place where his music could have a greater impact.” Not that the pianist had been ignored. He had worked for Roy Haynes, Tony Williams and Betty Carter, among others, and recorded successful albums as a leader. The encyclopedia article quotes him, “I was looking for a sense of community, a place where I could make a contribution and serve.” Grant became a professor of music at Portland State … [Read more...]

Ahmad Jamal At The Newmark

Riley, Jamal, Veal

Ahmad Jamal’s Portland Jazz Festival concert focused primarily on pieces from his recent Saturday Morning CD. Since early in his career, Jamal has been a master at making rhythm work for him. That hasn’t changed, although in his current quartet he and rhythm have plenty of help from drummer Herlin Riley, the ingenious percussionist Manolo Badrena and bassist Reginald Veal. In “Saturday Morning,” “Back to the Future,” and the standards “Blue Moon” and “The Gypsy,” Jamal’s exchanges with his … [Read more...]

Brian Blade Fellowship

Blade, Brian at PDX

For the 2014 Portland Jazz Festival’s second concert, drummer Brian Blade reassembled his band called the Brian Blade Fellowship. Some of the music was from the past of the group that he founded in 1997. Other pieces previewed their next album, Landmark, to be released in April. Blade, pianist John Cowherd, bassist Chris Thomas and saxophonists Myron Walden and Melvin Butler have played their ruminative, stately music together for so long that it often seems to unfold independent of their … [Read more...]

Elias Gives Festival A Joyous Launch

Elias 2

Last evening’s opening concert of the 2014 Portland Jazz Festival found the pianist and singer Eliane Elias in joyous spirits that led her to, but never quite over, the edge of giddiness. With bassist Marc Johnson, guitarist Graham Dechter and drummer Mauricio Zottarelli, Elias concentrated on music from her and Zottarelli’s native Brazil, with side trips into pieces from her … [Read more...]

Gorge Update

Gorge in rain

The Columbia River Gorge looked like this today, only wetter. Motoring through the Gorge even in a driving rainstorm is one of the world's great travel experiences. Portland is only a bit rainy at the moment—par for the course at this time of year. The Rifftides staff is off to listen to a conversation with Brian Blade and John Cowherd, then to take in an early concert by Eliane Elias and her trio and and a late one by drummer Blade's all-star band. … [Read more...]

To Portland

Columbia Gorge

Tomorrow morning, I will have the thrill of driving through south central Washington State and along the Oregon side of the magnificent Columbia River Gorge (pictured) to the Portland Jazz Festival. My schedule permits attending only the first four days of the festival, which runs nearly two weeks. I’ll take in major concerts by Ahmad Jamahl, Eliane Elias, Brian Blade and The Fellowship Band, Dave Frishberg and Bob Dorough together, Toshiko Akiyoshi with Lew Tabackin and as much other music as I … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Bernstein, Seriously


Leonard Bernstein took a bit of a thrashing here recently in the Sid Caesar spoof and some of the comments that followed it. So, it is only fair to let Maestro Bernstein (1918-1990) redeem himself. The Rifftides recommendation of Rudy Royston’s new album mentions that he includes Mozart’s “Ave Verum Corpus.“ The opening seconds of the performance that you’re about to watch show the sort of Bernstein mannerism that was fodder for Caesar’s satire. Still, eight months before his death, Bernstein … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes: Sid Caesar


The guy who invented the first wheel was an idiot. The guy who invented the other three, HE was a genius. The remote control changed our lives, ... The remote control took over the timing of the world. That's why you have road rage. You have people who have no patience, because you got immediate gratification. You got click, click, click, click. If it doesn't explode within three seconds, click click, click. The trouble with telling a good story is that it invariably reminds the other fellow … [Read more...]